Is this what it has come to? A eight-minute Nikeathon in the name of female empowerment?
‘Margot vs Lily’ is an eight-part series of films about a feuding pair of sisters, and their struggles with life, friendship, work, family and fitness apparel.
After seven and a half minutes of tediousness, we get to the point: a bet.
The feuding sisters (think King Lear-lite) challenge each other: one has to get 3 more friends, the other has to get a thousand followers on Instagram.
Shut the front door. Things just got real.
Nike’s ‘Margot vs Lily’ series is an extension of the respectable #BetterForIt campaign of 2015. It feels like the culmination of years of industry soul-searching about own-brand content, vlogging, the on-demand economy, product integration, longform content and so on.
And it’s painful.
I could bang on about the production values, from how weirdly they’ve dressed the cast [pseudo-hipster-circa-2013-meets-Nike-mannequin], to weird props [teddy-bears for grown-ups and presentation boxes]. But I won’t. I won’t.
Let’s focus on authenticity.
Why can’t Nike cast women who aren’t models, like ‘This Girl Can’ did? Sport England’s campaign certainly wasn’t perfect – I even preferred the original Nike #BetterForIt films – but at least it was easier relate to the women featured.
Margot and Lily’s characters feel skin-deep and unbelievable. This may be a result of a script which is over-reliant on clichés about millennials. Or it could be an unanticipated consequence of brands creating fictional content: overbranding in production and distribution.
This is a brand-produced YouTube film series about fictional characters who mostly wear the brand’s products and who cross-promote the brand’s other products and content channels. The film’s YouTube blurb and its host website (Nike.com) encourage viewers to find out more about (and buy) the products the cast were wearing. It’s too much.
You can imagine the content guru, kneeling on their fluorescent exercise ball in a meeting, exclaiming: ‘This is so meta’.
There’s a novel directness to it – the messaging isn’t exactly subliminal – but by stripping back a few of the excesses (such as the complementary films and the blurb), this campaign could have been just that little bit more likeable.
Now, what’s on Netflix?